Updated: Cree, Inuit, and Naskapi sign MOU to create forum for greater voice in Quebec affairs

Cree Grand Chief Mandy Gull-Masty, Makivik President Pita Aatami and Naskapi Chief Theresa Chemaganish (left to right) pose for photographers following a signing ceremony between the Cree, Inuit and Naskapi Nations of Northern Quebec, Friday, April 22, 2022 in Gatineau, Quebec. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The Cree, Inuit, and Naskapi nations in Quebec signed an MOU on Friday to create a new forum they say will give them a greater voice in provincial affairs.

The new Cree, Inuit and Naskapi Forum of Northern Québec will allow the three nations to work together on common priority areas. 

“Although we have always had connections with our neighbors to the north and to the east, having a permanent forum where common issues are exchanged on can only be positive for the well-being of our communities,” Grand Chief Mandy Gull-Masty of Cree Nation Government said in a news release after the MOU signing in Gatineau, Quebec.

“Together, we can ensure the best tools are in place for the future and that representation of our nations in the region, province, and nationally is fair and inclusive.”

Community well-being, sustainability among priority areas

In a joint statement, the Naskapi Nation, the Cree Nation Government, and Makivik Corporation, the Inuit land claims organization in Arctic Quebec, said their cooperation will be guided by areas of joint concern for the three nations such as community well-being and the sustainability of their traditional territories. 

“On our long journey towards self-determination, the Naskapis of Nuchimiyuschiiy are proud to count on our long-time neighbors, the Inuit of Nunavik and the Crees of Eeyou Istchee,”  Theresa Chemaganish, cheif of the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach said.

“It is only by working together that we will achieve our shared objective to exercise full autonomy on our traditional territories and improve the well-being of our communities.”

The forum’s first meeting has not yet been scheduled but will take place later this year.

Among the issues to be tabled at the first meeting are self-government, land use, housing, language and culture, customary adoption and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Makivik President Pita Aatami, (left to right) Cree Grand Chief Mandy Gull-Masty and Naskapi Chief Theresa Chemaganish look on as Inuit throat singers Phoebe Oweetaluktuk and Sylvia Cloutier perform during a signing ceremony in Gatineau, Quebec. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

More weight on provincial stage

The new body will not replace other existing forums, the three nations said, but will allow them a stronger voice on the provincial stage.

“I am very proud of what Inuit have accomplished over the years on the Nunavik Territory,” Pita Aatami, the president of Makivik Corporation, said.

“With our Indigenous Forum on Northern Quebec and our collective efforts with the Crees and the Naskapis our voice will even be louder and stronger.”

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

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Greenland: Inuit in Canada, Alaska and Greenland found international business association, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Sami education conference looks at how to better serve Indigenous children, Eye on the Arctic

United StatesHow the International Inuit Business Association wants to transform commerce in the Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

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